Buying and selling in the futures market can seem risky and complicated. As we've already said, futures trading is not for everyone, but it works for a wide range of people. This tutorial has introduced you to the fundamentals of futures. If you want to know more, talk to your broker.
Let's review the basics:
- The futures market is a global marketplace, initially created as a place for farmers and merchants to buy and sell commodities for either spot or future delivery. This was done to lessen the risk of both waste and scarcity.
- Rather than trade in physical commodities, futures markets buy and sell futures contracts, which state the price per unit, type, value, quality and quantity of the commodity in question, as well as the month the contract expires.
- The players in the futures market are hedgers and speculators. A hedger tries to minimize risk by buying or selling now in an effort to avoid rising or declining prices. Conversely, the speculator will try to profit from the risks by buying or selling now in anticipation of rising or declining prices.
- The CFTC and the NFA are the regulatory bodies governing and monitoring futures markets in the U.S. It is important to know your rights.
- Futures accounts are credited or debited daily depending on profits or losses incurred. The futures market is also characterized as being highly leveraged due to its margins; although leverage works as a double-edged sword. It's important to understand the arithmetic of leverage when calculating profit and loss, as well as the minimum price movements and daily price limits at which contracts can trade.
- "Going long," "going short," and "spreads" are the most common strategies used when trading on the futures market.
- Once you make the decision to trade in commodities, there are several ways to participate in the futures market. All of them involve risk - some more than others. You can trade your own account, have a managed account or join a commodity pool.
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